This delicious Chicken Shawarma has juicy spiced chicken and a cool lemon dill yogurt sauce stuffed into a soft pita. It’s the perfect simple meal after a long day!
What is Chicken Shawarma?
Chicken Shawarma comes from the region that is now Turkey, and it is often found as delicious street food with tons of flavor. Traditionally the meat (may be lamb, chicken, turkey, etc.) is marinated and cooked on a vertical rotisserie, then the vender slices of pieces to be served in as a sandwich, wrap, or meal with fries, veggies, or rice. The method is similar to Greek gyros, but it’s much more heavily spiced.
For this recipe, we simplified the process and made it easily achievable in the average kitchen. Instead of long marinading and rotisserie times, we sped it up with a heavy-handed spice rub and about 13 minutes in a skillet. You get a great flavor quickly, and using chicken thighs keeps this juicy and tender.
Ingredients for Chicken Shawarma
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need for this recipe. For exact measurements, keep scrolling down to the printable recipe card.
- Boneless chicken thighs – These cook quickly and stay perfectly juicy. You can use breasts or tenders if you prefer.
- Spice blend made with Smoked paprika, Garlic powder, Cumin, Turmeric powder, Salt, Onion powder, and Cinnamon with Oil – Olive, avocado, or canola oil will all work fine.
- Pita bread rounds – You can use white or whole wheat. If you’d like to spare the carbs and gluten, wrap up in a big lettuce cup instead.
- Yogurt sauce made with Plain Greek yogurt, Dill (fresh, minced), Lemon juice, Garlic powder, Onion powder, and Salt – These combine for a fresh-tasting sauce that contrasts the spicy chicken very well. If you prefer mint over dill, you could substitute that for a different flavor.
- Toppings: Shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced red onion – These are optional, but they add great flavor and texture to your pita! Ingredients like this also make the meal more filling and are perfect for stretching the meal further.
How to Make Easy Chicken Shawarma
Learn how to make this simple meal with big flavors! Here’s a step-by-step guide to cooking tender spiced chicken for shawarma sandwiches.
Season & cook chicken
Pat the chicken dry, then toss it in a large bowl with all of the seasonings to coat. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add your preferred cooking oil. Place the chicken thighs in the pan, making sure they have room between them for a good sear. Cook for 6-7 minutes on each side or until cooked though. Once the chicken has reached 165 degrees F, remove from pan and set aside on a plate.
Mix yogurt sauce
While chicken is cooking, mix all yogurt sauce ingredients in a bowl. If you’d like, you can make this up to 1 week ahead of time. If it needs to be thinned out, add a little more lemon juice.
Assemble pita sandwiches
Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, then slice. Arrange in pita with vegetables and yogurt sauce. You may choose to serve the sauce as a dip on the side or spread over the pita before placing the other toppings–This is up to you!
Good Side Dishes with Chicken Shawarma:
We love these tasty wraps with cauliflower rice (with parsley and lemon juice instead of cilantro and lime) as well as some chickpea salad or Greek cucumber salad. Consider serving additional warm pitas with hummus, tzatziki, or whipped feta dip!
How to Store Shawarma
Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days in the fridge or 3-6 months in the freezer. The yogurt sauce will also stay fresh for about a week, just make sure to keep them stored separately for the best flavors and textures. You could stuff the pita a day or so ahead of time if necessary, but I think it’s best when assembled right before eating.
Can you freeze yogurt sauce?
If you make too much yogurt sauce and want to freeze it, you can. It will look like it has separated once it has thawed, but all you have to do is stir to bring it back together. I do feel like the flavor is best when fresh, but freezing won’t ruin it.
If you love Chicken Shawarma, you’ll love these recipes:
- Greek Chicken Wrap – This is another easy wrap, great for meal prepping lunches! The hummus and olives really take this to the next level.
- Salmon Kabobs with Greek Marinade – This would be delicious on its own or stuffed inside a pita pocket, too! Great on salad for a super healthy meal.
- Chicken Kabobs – Tender zucchini, red onions, and chunks of chicken are made super flavorful with a tasty lemon garlic yogurt marinade.
- Greek Chicken Power Bowls – This is another great option if you don’t love pita! Just serve over greens for a healthy, easy meal that takes barely any time at all.
- Greek Turkey Wrap – Creamy tzatziki sauce makes this wrap a lunch you’ll crave over and over! It’s super simple and requires no cooking.
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp oil
- 4 pita bread rounds
- Shredded lettuce
- Sliced tomatoes
- Sliced red onion
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp fresh minced dill
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Toss the chicken and seasonings in a large bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken thighs for 6-7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through to 165 degrees. Set the chicken aside.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Slice the chicken, then assemble the chicken shawarma pitas with chicken, yogurt sauce, and vegetables.
Leftover chicken and yogurt sauce keep in the fridge (separately) for up to 3 days.
Nutrition values do not include lettuce, tomato, or red onion.